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Home > ABOUT THE PARKS > National Parks of Taiwan
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Publish Date:2009-07-27
Satellite image of the Dongsha Atoll ( provided by NSPO )
Time established: January 2007

Total area: 353,667 ha

Administrative region:
It is the southern gateway to the Taiwan Strait in the north of the South China Sea between Hong Kong, Taiwan and Luzon islands. The atoll is about 240 nautical miles from Kaohsiung in the northeast and 640 nautical miles from Taiping Island in Nansha in the south. The atoll is formed mainly by a coral reef. Dongsha Island is the only reef island above the sea surface among the Dongsha Atoll. Currently, it is under the jurisdiction of the Kaohsiung City Government.

Landscape and Geology

The Dongsha Marine National Park includes the Dongsha Island and Dongsha Atoll. Shaped like a horseshoe and covered with sand, the flat island has no apparent topological coverage but short tropical bushes flourish everywhere. Two sand ridges extend to the west of the island embracing a small lagoon, creating a shape that can be likened to that of a crab’s pincers. The lagoon is less than 1m deep at low tide. The Dongsha Atoll is a circular coral reef with a diameter of about 25km and a reef table of about 46km long and 2km wide, which emerges at low tide. According to estimates, it took millions of years for nature to form the Dongsha Atoll, making it one of the environmental wonders of the world.

Flora and Fauna

The Dongsha atoll is formed with typical tropical marine corals, with branching and table corals (Acroporidae) as the main reef-building organisms. They are distributed mainly on the surface and sides of the reef ridge. Currently, over 250 species of corals have been recorded, including 14 newly recorded species, such as the blue fire coral and a number of octocorals. The complex structure of this vast coral reef offers a perfect habitat for marine organisms to proliferate, including 556 fishes and many unrecorded species in Taiwan waters. Other than a wide range of fish and reef communities, there are colorful invertebrates living within, including 175 recorded mollusks, 28 recorded echinoderms and 33 recorded crustaceans.

Historical and Cultural Sites

Dongsha Island is the biggest of the South China Sea islands and was among one of the earliest to be developed. Records of fishermen fishing in the seas around Dongsha can be traced back to Jin Dynasty’s Guangzhou Ji over a thousand years ago: “The Shanhujhou (Coral Sandbar) is 500 li south of the county (Dongguan, Guangdong). People catch fish and harvest coral from the seas there”. Here “Shanhujhou” refers to Dongsha Island and its surrounding reef. Though fishermen often traversed these waters over the past 1000 years, Dongsha Island remained uninhabited due to its small size and remote location. Since ancient times, many vessels have passed the area on the South China Sea Silk Road, and have run aground and sunk due to the sunken reefs and shoals. Thus, it is an ideal location for marine archeology in the future.

Dongsha Marine National Park map

Last Updated on 2014-05-08
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